CORVALLIS, Ore. – Good news for entrepreneurs in the Southern Willamette Valley: the Cities of Corvallis and Eugene are teaming up to boost tech-based start-ups with the help of two Universities and the local business community.
The Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network (RAIN), is a network that will help match entrepreneurs to resources in the region.
“Corvallis is a small city,” said OSU Advantage Accelerator Co-Director Mark Lieberman. “Fifty-five thousand people. Eugene: 155,000 people. And you can’t think about competing with some of the other large metropolitan areas, which have a wealth of human resources.”
The OSU Advantage Accelerator helps entrepreneurs in the Corvallis area: community members or spin-offs from the University.
“Entrepreneurs aren’t people who dream about doing great things,” Lieberman said. “They stay awake at night and do it.”
But that does not mean they don’t need help taking those ideas to the market.
“The research that is coming out of both universities and the commercialization efforts that have already started and will continue to grow – you could create something great,” he said. “And that’s what we’re looking to do here.”
The OSU Advantage Accelerator is part of RAIN – which will be the virtual hub for both OSU’s accelerator and O Corps, the business accelerator from the University of Oregon that is still developing.
“I am so excited about the potential of leveraging the resources and the assets that we have in our college cities and surrounding area to help grow successful businesses in the region,” said Corvallis Mayor Julie Manning. “I think it’s a wonderful step forward.”
Governor John Kitzhaber appointed Manning and Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy as the co-conveners of the initiative.
“It’s a terrific opportunity to really optimize a wonderful asset that we have, both in the Corvallis area with Oregon State University, and also the Eugene area with the University of Oregon,” she said.
The program got a kick start from the State Legislature last year for $3.75 million to help support its growth. It will be a resource for entrepreneurs who are part of the OSU and UO Accelerators.
“It doesn’t take 20 million people in Los Angeles to create a great entrepreneurial effort,” Lieberman said. “You could do that by joining forces with like-minded people. Here in Corvallis, or in Eugene.”
RAIN named the head of its initiative on Monday, Jim Coonan, a successful entrepreneur and former CEO of a company.
Next on the agenda is to bring together a board of directors and to finalize the paperwork to become a non-profit organization.
Lieberman says RAIN hopes to create 5-10 fundable companies by the end of the year.
“It creates an access point to make your idea a reality,” Lieberman said. “If you think big, if you think more regionally rather than locally, you can do a lot more,” Lieberman said.
To be able to receive the regional guidance, one must be part of one of its accelerator programs. To apply to be part of the OSU Advantage Accelerator program, click here.